Thursday, October 3, 2013

ADSS 8.141 Gabriel Apor to Cardinal Maglione: Hungarian government reply to Vatican protest

ADSS 8.141: Gabriel Apor, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See to Cardinal Maglione

Reference:  No number; AES 7410/41

Location and date: Rome 06.09.1941

Summary statement: Justification for the Antisemitic laws in Hungary

Language: French


In reference to the letter of 13.08.1941 (1), I have the honour to communicate to Your Eminence the following:

The Hungarian Government has read, with sincere regret, the concerns Your Eminence expressed related to the introduced reforms to Hungarian marriage legislation.

The population of Hungary is – as is commonly known – is composed of different religions.   Therefore there has been a need for forty-seven years for the Hungarian State to regulate the institution of marriage by law and introduce legislation for obligatory civil marriage.

Since 1894 (2), the Hungarian Government has thus, invariably, taken the point of view that the regulations of the institution of marriage is a task that falls to the State, and therefore the Hungarian Government has never – since then – amended its point of view on this principle.

Political interests vital to the country require the Hungarian Government to introduce new prohibitive measures to matrimonial legislation.  These important interests have emerged from consequences, in part, from the general European situation, and in part, from special social conditions in Hungary, which have been exposed repeatedly by qualified representatives of the government to Parliament and have been expressed by the Prime Minister (3) to His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio. (4)

During the discussions of the proposed law in question, the Hungarian Government endeavoured to take into account the points of view expressed by His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio and His Eminence the Cardinal Prince-Primate (5) insofar as the political circumstances that made the reforms inevitable, allowed it.

The Hungarian government, for its part, ensures the Holy See, that within the framework of the law, has not lost sight of the considerations the Church attaches – on its part, a very high importance – when it comes to the execution and practice of the law.

The Hungarian Government sincerely regrets if these concessions have not entirely satisfied the Holy See, but expresses the hope that this matter will not affect the traditional friendly relations that have existed with Hungary since the time of our first king, St Stephen. (6)

(1) ADSS 8.128
(2) “In 1894-1995, a severe domestic conflict erupted in Hungary. The Liberal government then in power introduced legislation aimed at separating church and state.  The reforms with regard to the tole of the Catholic Church made civil marriage and birth registry obligatory, legalised divorce, granted Judaism equality with other faiths, and left it to parents in an interfaith marriage to decide what religious their children should follow.  These secularisation laws were strongly opposed by the Catholic clergy and conservative magnates in the upper house of the Hungarian parliament.  The laws finally were passed when Emperor Francis Joseph, who had disliked the secularisation laws and procrastinated in his support of the Hungarian government, finally put pressure on the magnates to vote for the bills in order to avoid a prolonged crisis”. Solomon Wank (2009), In the Twilight of Empire: count Alois Lexa von Aehrehthal (1854-1912) Imperial Hapsburg Patriot and Statesman, Volume 1, p 146.  See too Paul Hanebrink (2006), In Defense of Christian Hungary:religion, Nationalism and Antisemitism 1890-1944,  pp 23-28. Many of Hungary’s senior clergy had been young priests during the bitter clash over the introduction of civil marriage in 1894 and most saw it as a major loss for the rights of the Church.
(3) Laszlo von Bardossy (1890-1945), Prime Minister 1941-1942
(4) Angelo Rotta (1872-1965), Nuncio 1930-1945
(5) Justinian Seredi (1884-1945), Cardinal Primate 1927-1945
(6) St Stephen I, Duke (997-1000) and first King of Hungary (1000-1038).

Arms of the Regency of Hungary

ADSS 8.130 Maglione to Rotta: Vatican protest to Hungarian government

ADSS 8.130: Cardinal Maglione to Nuncio Angelo Rotta

Reference:  AES 6167/41

Location and date: Vatican, 13.08.1941

Summary statement:  Protest against the Antisemitic legislation in Hungary.

Language: Italian


I have received the regular reports of Your Reverence, numbers 5706/41, 5763/41 and 5806/41 of 06, 19 and 24.07.1941 related to the racial laws recently approved by the Hungarian parliament. (1)

In response to those laws, which are contrary to Catholic doctrine regarding marriage, I addressed a note to the Hungarian Minister were I could not fail to express to the Government the genuine concerns of the Holy See.  I have enclosed a copy for your Excellency. (2)

Given that this Secretariat lacks the desired details and any implications of the exact scope and disposition of the laws in question and their consequences, from a religious point of view, a Note has been prepared in fairly general terms.

Anyway, I hope that the Hungarian government will not fail to take due account of the legitimate desires expressed and in his hope, to take this opportunity …

(1) ADSS 8.111,116.  The third report was not published in ADSS.
(2) ADSS 8.128
(3) The nuncio replied on 21.08.1941: “the laws, as promulgated, have not yet entered into force; they will do so gradually … I do not have any illusions about the possibility of a delay sine die [without a day specified in the future] or of any regulations that could practically reduce its scope”. Report number 5959/41 N. Pr 411; AES 7131/41.

ADSS 8.128 Cardinal Maglione to Gabriel Apor, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See

ADSS 8.128: Cardinal Maglione to Gabriel Apor, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See

Reference: AES 6145/41

Location and date: Vatican, 10.08.1941

Summary statement: Protest against the race laws in Hungary

Language: French


The undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State has the honour to communicate to His Excellency the Minister for Hungary (1) the following:

The Holy See has been informed of the concerns of the Hungarian government in a confidential manner through His Eminence Cardinal Seredi and through His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio in Budapest, that the Hungarian Government would present for discussion a proposed law concerning marriage to both houses of Parliament. (2)

The official proposal concerning the obligation of the medical examination before marriage and the defence of marriage between Jews and non-Jews has been approved, with slight changes, by both Houses of Parliament, despite the legitimate and explicit opposition of the Catholic bishops of Hungary.

Consequently, the undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State is obliged to express to the Hungarian government the concerns of the Holy See regarding compliance with Catholic doctrine about the Sacrament of marriage.

Indeed, in an immediate or, at least, indirect way, the two proposals, as a result of the civil law which must precede under pain of legal sanctions, hampers the celebration of marriage which is the responsibility of the Catholic Church.

It is all too obvious that these two proposals effect Catholic doctrine, as they establish impediments to the celebration of marriage and are contrary the Law of God and established ecclesiastical law.

The undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State, is obliged to convey to the Hungarian Minister these preceding remarks, but wishes to take the opportunity to express his confidence that the Hungarian Government will introduce regulations relating to matter in question, namely the mitigations and provisions capable of satisfying the requirements of Catholic conscience. (3)

(1) Gabriel Apor (1889-1969), Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See 1939-1944.
(2) ADSS 8.95,111,114.  The law was promulgated on 02.08.1941
(3) See ADSS 8.141.

Baron Gabor [Gabriel] Apor

ADSS 8.120 Angelo Rotta to Cardinal Maglione: Race laws approved without mitigation

ADSS 8.120: Nuncio Angelo Rotta to Cardinal Luigi Maglione

Reference: Report number 5806/41 (N. Pr. 396) AES 5995/41

Location and date: Budapest, 26.07.1941

Summary statement: Hungarian race laws have been approved without mitigation.

Language: Italian


The question of the racist laws, which have been the subject of my previous reports (see n. 5763/41, n. pr. 391, of 19.07.1941 and before), is nearing its conclusion.

As expected, the House of Deputies did not accept the benign modifications suggested for Article 9 as proposed by the Upper House. (Who should be considered a Jew)

So the commission of the two chambers met together to find a way of conciliation.  This was achieved and, returning almost to the original language of the article that was approved by the House of Deputies with some small adjustments made so the Ministry of Justice can make exceptions in extraordinary cases.  Article 15 was completely changed in the sense that if falls under the penalties of the laws regarding prostitution [literally: the sex trade] between a person considered to be a Jewish woman and an honest non-Jewish woman of Hungarian nationality. (2) The transformation of the article in question will stir up some competing interpretations of the competence of the legal system, denying the competence of the commission that met, and presenting these changes, which are in effect a new law. To me it is a settlement made to preserve the peace in order to avoid a conflict between the two houses,  Now that both houses have accepted the resolution of the Joint Committee the question is now finished.

In the clipping from “Pester Lloyd”(3) I have attached Article 9 which was finally approved, and Article 15 mentioned above.

Note of Maglione (on a separate sheet)

Study the text to find our grievances. (4)

(1) ADSS 8.95, 111, 116.
(2) Article 15 of the new law followed the Nuremberg Laws outlawing any sexual contact between Jews and non-Jews.
(3) Not published in ADSS.  Edition of the paper was 24.07.1941.

(4) See ADSS 8.128.